Tuesday, June 29, 2010

confrontation 2, careless, swifts

 Having abandoned the chip wrapper, the gull takes on a new challenge the dimensions of which he is contemplating at present.

In Ventnor on the Isle of Wight we pass a solicitor's office with  the name Careless and Kemp on the fascia.

Outside the Seaview hotel we drink a chilled Gamay (same grape as Beaujolais) from the South West of France, and watch and listen to swifts diving and screaming overhead. For me no summer is complete until I have heard and seen these magical  birds. Apparently their numbers are dwindling, so evidence of their presence here in Seaview raises the spirit even more than a perfect summer evening added to which is the curious  and delightful coincidence of bumping into my nephew Ben.   Quite unknown to us, he has been staying at  the hotel over the weekend. Sad that he has to return to London as we arrive, but there is time to swim and have a drink before he leaves.

Monday, June 28, 2010

confrontation, moth, quiet

Posted by PicasaOn the platform at St Leonards, Warrior Square, a seagull meets a greasy chip wrapper. Tomorrow: the  ensuing struggle.

In the train, a moth flies past my head and over the the seat facing us, where there is a group of four more seats. The seats are occupied but you cannot see by whom. All I see is a hand which shoots up and catches the moth. "Sorry", says an American voice, but whether the apology is intended for the people with whom the owner of the voice is travelling or to the moth I cannot tell.

The compartment in which we are travelling to Portsmouth is called a quiet zone. Signs beside the seats instruct: "Do not use mobile phones. Do not use earphones". Appropriate symbols - two circles with a phone in one, ear phones in the other, over each of which is printed a red cross -  reinforce the prohibition. Everywhere we look people are clutching their telephones as though they are fragments of the true cross. The girl opposite touches hers gently and an unintelligible sounds emerges from between her fingers. Across the aisle another young woman, sitting  directly beneath the notice, holds her phone in one hand and wears a set of earphones, from which emerges a sound like someone scrapping metal on a piece of glass. 

Sunday, June 27, 2010

seed, joining in, football

Posted by Picasa I usually photograph winged seeds like this maple seed in Autumn, when they are blown by the wind, and dry and brown and ready to start a new tree if they land in the right place. But this one, lying on the pavement, catches my attention because of its fresh green colour, which somehow enhances the veins on the wings and the gentle curve of the receptacle where the seed itself gathers the strength to procreate .

Glastonbury is not for me. But sometimes I wish that I had the capacity to join a throng. The group  called |Scissor Sisters has a song  called I Don't Feel Like Dancing. That is a sentiment I can sympathise with. I find it hard to join any kind of group activity in which the thinking, critical, sentient part of myself tends to be subordinated to a vast composite being, going who knows where, and wanting to drag me with it. I can, of course, see the attraction of giving in to it, abandoning, for a  while, thought, purpose, responsibility. This strikes me as I watch Scissor Sisters at Glastonbury on TV and the huge crowd swaying and bobbing up and down and dancing on the spot with arms waving in time. The sun is setting, the light golden. The faces are happy, ecstatic - to be young is very bliss - and for a moment I am happy for them, though glad not to be among them.

The football game between England and Germany is  just over with a resounding win for Germany. I like football too much to allow patriotism to intrude in my enjoyment of the game. Where football is concerned, it is tempting to agree with Dr Johnson who said that patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. Most important, I watch the match with Heidi, who holds both a British and a German passport.  She likes football too. No question, though, England scored two goals rather than the one awarded,  the better team won and deserved to win.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

textures, bags, astilibe

Posted by Picasa Close up of a plank in a skip.

The owner of the stall which sells chocolate covered cob (hazel) nuts at The Farmers' Market, offers me a plastic bag. It is provided by Tunbridge Wells Borough Council apparently to persuade people to avoid using plastic bags. On the bag are printed the words "Thank you. By using this bag you are helping to protect the environment. He remarks on the absence of logic underlying the Council's generosity. We discuss the ugly images of dead birds and marine life where plastic bags are to blame. He tells me of one Council which provides plastic cups, which can be burnt, but, he says, the cups are so thin that two are needed, and people who use them discard them in public places regardless of their composition. I decline the Council's bag and put my purchases directly in my rucksack, but try not to feel too pleased with myself.

||A few weeks ago we donated a hydrangea, white when we acquired it, to a friend and neighbour, because the flowers had become a bright pink, which did not match our garden . Today I replace it with a feathery astilbe with delicate pyramids of cream coloured spikes. Its modesty provides a pleasing contrast to its blowzy predecessor.

Friday, June 25, 2010

waiting, cross-dresser, game

Posted by Picasa Through a cafe window.

On a bench on platform 2 of Tunbridge Wells railway station sits a middle aged man with a flowered parasol. His beard is divided into two pig tail like strands, which are secured by ribbons as though they are pigtails. He is wearing a skirt.

News of the impending football match between England and Germany has reached Germany. A friend of Heidi's in Germany reports the headline Fish and Chips v Bratwurst.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

bee 2, frail, endurance

Posted by Picasa Today' bee in a pink boudoir.

An tall, elderly man emerges from a taxi outside Pasta Pasta in St Leonards-on-Sea, where we are lunching. He has difficulty walking across the pavement, but the woman with him, a little younger and plumper, helps him to a table outside. He has a moustache and a troubled visage. He wears a hooded woolen jacket, with the hood back. They order coffee, and sit facing one another holding hands. Soon his companion leaves and he sits on his own, his back to the sea. We go for a walk on the beach and when we return he is still there with another coffee. No sign of his companion. But now he is talking to himself.  He interrupts himself to order an ice cream. His tone of voice, when he continues with his conversation with himself, is serious and  sounds, and probably is, entirely rational.

After the vicarious experience of England's World Cup win yesterday, today it is tennis. As I walk up Mount Pleasant I stop  outside a tv shop to see that the match between the 6ft 9in American  John Isner and the spiky haired Frenchman Nicholas Mahut, carried on from yesterday, is starting again. The score is 60 - 59 in the fifth set (no tie-breaker applies in the fifth set at Wimbledon). On my way back twenty minutes later, the score is 66- 65. Neither player has yet succeed in breaking the other's service. The match has been in  progress, with an overnight rest,  for 10 hours  46 minutes of play. It is already  the longest tennis match ever at Wimbledon. When I get home a few minutes ago, the BBC website tells me that it is at last over. The score is 70 -68 with Isner the winner. The final time count for the match is 11 hours and five minutes. There is something unreal, heroic and completely mad about the whole episode, a piece of history. I am glad to have witnessed some of it yesterday evening and today.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

onion, countryside, football

Posted by PicasaThere have always been Welsh onions in my vegetable garden. They are perpetual, producing new shoots all the time and every year. They grow in bunches and when you want some you simply prise them away at the root, and more will subsequently appear. At this time of year they tend to flower, which bees  like this one appreciate.

From the train the countryside is like a garden. Elder is still in flower and ox eye daisies spread into fields from the shadow of hedges.  But most conspicuous today are the pink brier roses which clamber over shrubs and into trees and fall  in tresses over hedgerows. If you didn't know otherwise, you would mistake them for cultivated rambler roses in a cottage garden.

Today we elect not to watch England play the World Cup game, which could see them expelled from the series. Instead we take  the train to sit by the sea.  Who wants to be in front of the tv on summer day like this! But we do not escape the game completely. In  St Leonards, even before it  has started,  England or the team's manager Fabio Capello is on everyone lips. "|Where does Fabio's heart really stand?" we hear  a man ask outside a shop, as we walk past. On the way back we learn that England are leading 1- nil, when we overhear a telephone conversation in the train compartment. Half way home from the station, in the newsagent, we learn that the score is still 1 - nil, and by the time we pass the entrance to The Grove Tavern, it is clear that England has survived. We too.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

explorers, radiation, unanswered

Posted by PicasaIn pursuit of London.

About 10 years ago my dentist, Tim, bought a new x ray machine. It was either this or a Porsche, he said at the time. His new machine to which he introduces me today he says "is clean, very clean. The cleanest. I can stand beside it all day and  receive no more radiation than on a return trip to Paris. France is on his mind at the moment. I'm on holiday in Saint Malo, next week," he says. "Golf?" I ask knowing his sporting inclinations. "No," he says: "Food. I know what my first meal's going to be... A dozen oysters and foie gras." And getting a little carried away, "pounds of Normandy butter." Dentists by virtue of their occupation and their patients'  necessary subservience to their drilling, scraping and tinkering, are hard to engage in dialogue, or I would certainly have enquired after his drinking plans.

As I stand on platform one at Tunbridge Wells station, I hear a telephone ringing through an open office window on the other side of the track. No one answers its insistent,  plaintive call. Why don't they answer? someone is saying somewhere.

Monday, June 21, 2010

tourism, window, paths

Posted by Picasa T-shirts for tourists in Covent Garden.

Several  times today I pass the same ground floor window. Every time I see the outline of a man at a computer. His head and shoulders are blurred by the slats of a venetian blind, but through the sash window, open at the bottom, I see his hands over the keyboard clearly defined,  his fingers curled and in action.

From The London Road, you see the slopes of The Common, mostly wooded, but with one or or two open areas where people sit and look across  the river of traffic at  Mount Sion  opposite, with its tiered roofs of  houses climbing to the sky line.  From where I stand on the Mount Sion side, this afternoon, I like to see the paths winding up hill through the wooded slopes among trees heavy with mid-summer leaves. It reminds me of John Keats' "verdurous gloom and winding mossy ways".

Sunday, June 20, 2010

climbers, bay, braking

Posted by Picasa The climber outside the sitting room seems never to have been so exuberant. Heidi believes that it has been sustained by ash from the Icelandic volcano back in the Spring.

The little bit of land, which we call a garden is much improved since we had the bay tree cut down last year. But the bay is not entirely defeated. The stump on which we have placed a pot of  white nemesia, is now surrounded, by new  shoots, which grow upwards round the pot like the curved sides of a vase round a bouquet.

|Last year I was mildly reprimanded in this blog for expressing what sounded like enthusiasm for a Harley Davidson motor bike, which I saw parked outside a pub. Having little knowledge of  such machines I am attracted by their sculptural and iconic qualities rather than by their value as methods of locomotion or engineering distinction. I am reminded of this rebuke, when I ask after the Harley Davidson, which I see the proprietor of the Italian delicatessen Arte Bianca at the bottom of Mount Sion, riding the other day. "I'm not the owner, " he says. "I haven't got time for one. I am not old enough to spare the time. They take a lot of time". Like my friend Barrett Bonden, he's not too keen on Harley Davidsons. "You brake here in Tunbridge Wells, " he says, "and it stops in Southborough!".

Saturday, June 19, 2010

marigold, Lancaster, wasp

Posted by Picasa A pot marigold in the herb garden. The petals provide streaks of gold scattered on  salad and add the taste of spice.

As I walk through The Grove, I hear the roar of aircraft engines, not jets, but powerful internal  combustion engines from a different era. I look up and low above the roofs of Little Mount Sion and Berkeley Road I see a World War 2 Lancaster bomber. Reader, I run forward to get a better view, hoping that it might return or that I might get another glimpse of it, and sure enough it circles and flies back directly overhead in the direction of The Common. It is very low and I can clearly see its camouflaged fuselage and rear gun cockpit. It is no longer a weapon of war intent on dropping bouncing bombs on reservoirs, but a working antique, an aircraft, which recalls a boy's wonder at what was then a monstrous, overwhelming machine. But now, in comparison with sleek, sinister, modern war planes, how small  and innocent it looks! Earlier today I had  caught sight of The Red Arrows, jets ripping through  the sky over our house in formation, leaving behind thick vapour trails like grey streamers,  and  deduced that somewhere in Kent or Sussex, an airshow must be on. But this is more thrilling, than The Red Arrows acrobatic team, more unexpected, a stirring reminder that technical achievement does not belong entirely to the electronic age.

While I am sitting  by the window this afternoon reading, I see in the corner of my eye the shadow of a wasp cross the wall. I look up. On the sunlit glass, there is the wasp itself. Tap tap. A faint buzzing. I am glad that the window is closed. The wasp flies off. For good.

Friday, June 18, 2010

digitalis, mischief, identity

Posted by Picasa Today's foxglove.

After the pigeons and the mice, there is another marauder in the the vegetable garden. And one intent only on mischief. Last year, it nipped off the stems of  young bean shoots without any intent to eat them or any part of them. This year, bird or beast, I do not know which, it has wantonly nipped the stems of young sunflowers no more than an inch or so high. I can't help admiring it, despite its assault, because I detect a playful innocence and curiosity at work somewhere, which appeals to an irresponsible thread in my nature.

"We can't go in meeting like this," says a pleasant woman as we pass on the slopes of Mount Sion. She smiles as if we know one another. There are a number of people, now, who I think I recognize but may not know and others who I don't think I recognize but who I feel I must know and have forgotten who they are. This encounter falls into the last category.  I think of one woman in particular, who I know lives nearby. " You live in  these flats, don't you? " I say hopefully, because I have a bad record in greeting the person I think it may be. But by this time the truth is dawning: "You're not the person I thought you were," says the pleasant woman with a laugh, "I mistook you for Devon Twells. It must be the hat." Now I do know Devon Twells (yes that is his name and spelt like the county), but I am not sure that I would mistake myself for him, hat or no hat.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

open, readers, icecream

Posted by PicasaToday's poppy.

One of the silly things that come into my head: can mice read ? Last year and this year I have managed, despite the predations of pigeons who nibble the seedlings, to produce some garden peas. But in two successive years the seeds never got as far as sprouting. "Mice," said experienced gardeners, with finality.  So far, last year and this, no mice! But as I sow this year's third batch of peas, I think to myself: "Don't stick the empty packet at the end of the row, in case the mice spot it. There remains the question: how do mice find  a row of  seeds covered with soil and unsprouted, in a large garden if they don't read the packets at the end of the row?

One of the sounds, which I have come to associate with The Grove over the last 25 year, is the chimes of the ice cream van, mid-afternoon. It is accompanied by the patter of children's feet and their cries of anticipation and preference, as they run to queue at the window at the back of the van. As the engine, which presumably is kept running, to keep the refrigeration working, drones on, the chimes ring out again - Greensleeves, a song attributed to Henry V11l. Ice cream would have been far from the monarch's thoughts when he wrote it, if he wrote it. I think of Anne Boleyn, poor Anne Boleyn, but on the other hand, if you read, as I am currently reading Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel's gripping novel about Thomas Cromwell, you may feel less sorry for her cruel end, as she was apparently something of a bitch.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

view, choosey, flexible

Posted by Picasa  London window.

Pigeons without fail nibble every leaf  of  plants of the cabbage family - that includes  rocket, radishes and turnips, that grow in the vegetable garden. To say nothing of young pea shoots. Much as their intrusion worries me, I can't help admiring their ability to select from the wide choice the garden offers them. They can't be as silly as they look.

In the window of Bracket's the chartered surveyor in the High Street they are advertising for a part time audio secretary. "Flexibility and a sense of humour required," the notice says. If you have one, you need the other, I think to myself.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

watching, ready, contrast

Posted by PicasaStarling and two dandelions outside The Town Hall.

"Ready for the match tonight!" says a delivery man outside the TunbridgeWells Bar and Grill to a passing friend. It's football of course. All the pubs in the town have big tv screens so that people can watch together and drink steadily during the match. It is not a game that they are watching but a tribal ritual  in which they can partake accompanied by unrestrained  and generous libation. Now that the World Cup matches in South Africa are  played to the continuous sound of the vuvuzela, a traditional African horn, which has become part of the spectator contribution to the game in the Republic, the impression of a ritual performance becomes all the more intense.  As the sound is successfully communicated by the television transmitters, British football fans are being initiated into what must be seen as a new dimension of the game. The sound, if you haven't heard it, is like the buzzing of an enormous swarm of insects raised to a level, which some people might find excruciating particularly as it seems to be unbroken and emitted  regardless of what is happening on the field.

In Chapel Place I catch sight of a man about my age. He has a trim white moustache and wears a yachting cap. Hanging from the lobe of one ear is a porcelain ear ring.

Monday, June 14, 2010

prototypes, icecreams, purple

Posted by Picasa Anticipating Eve.

An old couple sit on a bench in The Grove. Their sticks set to one side, they  eat ice creams in the sun. Their quiet enjoyment is tangible.

The lettuce which I grow most of is called All the Year Round. It has a spreading habit and soft leaves which are full of flavour. With maturity it  develops a heart. This year the variety has been modified so that the leaves are a mixture of purple and green. A salad to look at, as well as to eat.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

sleeping, bees, 5 years

Posted by PicasaEscape.

This morning, the white  cistus by the front door is swarming with bees, so many bees, such an energetic buzzing, such a concentration of interest on the part of the insects.

I have now been writing this blog for no less than five years. I have posted regularly nearly every day as I promised myself I would. Of 1,826  possible posts including the 366 in 2006, I have posted 1796 times. When I started, I set out to follow the example of Clare Grant, whose idea of noting three beautiful things every day appealed to me (and still does) for several reasons. It is a positive affirmation of the encounters of daily life as they happen. It becomes a commentary on the place where I live, which is now somehow more real for me, as I describe the flora, and fauna of the neighbouring streets, parks and gardens, not to mention various excursions to London, to the sea and even abroad.  It attracts brevity, which means that it is not too much of a challenge to readers to tackle. It is a formula, which sharpens awareness of what is happening to me and to others around me. Because there are precisely three items to be noted  every day there is a balance and variety  of subject matter, so that the daily contrast  of subjects is often, of itself, interesting or, if you will, beautiful. I think that writing the blog and looking out for things to note everyday, has probably changed my attitude to life if not my life itself. It is immensely rewarding, particularly when I think of the friendships formed and renewed through it. This, my 1797th post, cannot escape being one of today's beautiful things.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

time, touch, squash

Posted by PicasaWaiting for the London train.

At the new medical centre , instead of telling the receptionist that you have arrived for your appointment, you can touch a screen which asks you questions. Are you Male? Female? I  admit to "Male"; Date of Birth?; I provide it. Now comes the clever part, on the screen following the words, "You Are..." my name appears. Accurate, and in some cases (extreme loss of memory for example), could be useful. Next the screen tells me that I am checked into see the nurse. I ask the nurse how she likes the new premises, a marked contrast to the 100 year old building where the centre was previously housed. "Very nice", she says, " but some patients find it a bit clinical." I observe that the premises are, after all, a clinic. But now, clinical or not, I get a kick out of the technology.

An old couple in front of a plant stall at the market are examining vegetable plants. The couple are of the same height and  of similar antiquity, not so far removed from my own. "That's a ..." says the old man. "A marrow," prompts his wife, who then adds contradicting the speculation with which she has connived at, " it's not a marrow it's a squash. You get everything muddled up," she says. "He gets everything muddled up," she tells the stall holder. Her husband maintains a puzzled expression, as though he might have been right all along. And I don't blame him because, having grown marrows and squashes over the years,  I know that it is difficult, almost impossible, to tell the difference, when the plants, which are  of the same family with many different varieties of each, have no more than two  or three small leaves.

Friday, June 11, 2010

readers, missed, measurements

Posted by PicasaComing and going.

The automatic bus door closes just  as a young man arrives to board the bus. He stands in front of the door and makes a pleading gesture to the driver, spreading his arms. But the driver moves off. The young man begins to run on the pavement beside the bus up the steep incline of Mount Pleasant. Soon he overtakes the bus which is slowed down by traffic. By the time the bus, which  has been held up at the lights opposite the Town Hall, arrives at the next stop  the young man is waiting. He does not appear out of breath or triumphant. I find myself wondering whether he needs the bus at all.

A neighbour, whom I stop to  pass the day with sometimes, asks me if I am good at maths. He tells me the measurements of a tennis court and the speed in mph of the fastest serve, and wants to know how long it takes from the racket striking the ball during a serve until the ball hits the ground in the opposite court. I cannot help him though I have a few suggestions about how to tackle the problem. In the end I recommend another neighbour, Hedley Jones, who is both a maths teacher and an enthusiastic tennis player. Today the neighbour crosses the road to tell me that he still hasn't approached Hedley, but he remains worried because he has realized that the calculation must vary according to the positioning of the server and the point in the opposite court to which the ball is delivered. "Talk to Hedley", I say, "and you will surely be enlightened." But then I begin to wonder. What about the wind, if there is any wind? And resistance caused by humidity? And whether the ball in question is a new one or one which has been in used for several games?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

opening, sport, dripping

Posted by PicasaExpression.

There  is a Jack Russell, which I often see chasing a ball in The Grove. Its owner (owner is the wrong word because in some senses the dog seems to own the man who throws the ball), throws the ball far and vigorously and the dog bounds after it and reaches the point where it lands almost at the same time. Either on the next bounce or the one after it, the dog catches the ball in mid-air. Today the Jack Russell brings the ball back to find his man talking to another man. The stranger has a dog on a lead. The led dog, a bit of Alsatian in it and quite a lot of something else, is a bit of a rogue and looks it. The Jack Russell, ignored for a moment, shows the ball to the led dog, then puts it down as a sort of challenge. The led dog advances on the ball and the Jack Russell snaps at its nose, whereupon it lets out a yelp. This is the signal for the led dog's man to lead it off, which was perhaps at the back of the Jack Russell's mind. I compliment the Jack Russell's man in the dog's sporting prowess. " A good fielder! " I say. I am referring to cricket, but the man thinks I am talking about hunting. He has an American accent so I suppose that he knows as little about cricket as I do about the sort of hunting to which he thinks that I am referring.

During and after the rain the garden drips. Drops hang from leaves and petals, fall, slide down stems and trunks, shine like beads . The scents of oils and resins rise from the vegetation. A mist  composed of all these vapours hangs over the garden. If your listen your can hear it pushing against the leaves and flowers accompanied by the soft drumming of  the drops.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

blowing, hoot, shanties

Posted by PicasaBlowing in the wind.

At this time of year at weekends and on bank holidays,  we hear the whistle of the single track railway between Tunbridge |Wells West station and Groombridge. It is one of those railways revived by enthusiasts and is used by parents taking their children out for a treat or a picnic. The whistle, more like a hoot, is a single note, and comes to the ear like an "oh!". The short of sound an old fashioned woman might make when shocked by something coarse on indelicate. Sound though it is, you see it as a sort of O in the air.

A programme on sea shanties on BBC 4 holds us enthralled. We hear a choir of fishermen singing the songs, which they inherited from their parents and grandparents. Their faces are weathered  by their calling.  They live and work in the North Yorkshire, seaside town  of Filey. Their expressions are grave, kind perhaps, but far from jovial. They do not smile easily, and you feel that when, rarely, a smile appears, it will have true warmth and sympathy. Like their songs, these faces seem to come to us from another age, a harder, simpler less facile age.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

gull, blades, Maria

Posted by Picasa Floating on the wind. This seagull is not looking for anything. It is simply enjoying the sensation of gliding.

The season progresses. It is June 8 but already the twin-blade propellers which  will carry seeds in the Autumn  are in evidence on the lime tree opposite.

In Camden Road I am greeted by a familiar face. At first, because she is out of context,  I do not recognise Maria from the delicatessen counter at Sainsbury's. She, who has so many friends among regular customers in the normally impersonal supermarket.  On Sunday mornings you nearly always hear her voice - 'Have a nice day! Have a lovely rest of the weekend! Enjoy your Parma ham!'   " I haven't seen you for some time, " she says, and then tells me that she is leaving Sainsbury's at the beginning of July . "We'll miss you," I say. I have to go and look after my mum," she says. " She is not well. I'm going to miss you all." It takes a very special sort of person to turn a supermarket counter into the equivalent of a village store.

Monday, June 07, 2010

shop, horrible, lead

Posted by Picasa Enjoying the sun, St Leonards-on-Sea.

As I sit outside The Grove Tavern with a pint of Harvey's after a morning in the garden, my obvious enjoyment communicates itself to a man who is passing, but would rather be joining me. "Bet that's horrible, isn't it?" he says.

The air this evening is heavy and  invested with moisture on the point of  condensing. The sounds of  children's voices from the playground, clearer and more bell-like than usual, alone suggest that rain is on the way. But the drone of aircraft on their way into Gatwick, made more intense by a blanket of cloud over the sun, is an even surer promise of  the coming downpour.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

window, parliament, light

Posted by PicasaWindow pattern in "The Village".

The lime tree opposite our house, the other day was crowded with starlings, and seemed to ring like a tree full of telephones. Today other birds  have taken up residence. The tree is resonant with different voices. Honks and whistles, clucks and coos and murmurs. The parliament of fowls.

While I am pruning a portion of the hedge,  the sky suddenly darkens, becomes leaden, purple. The light remains, but it all seems to come from flowers and leaves in the garden, which seem to glow with an inward light. Soon, very soon it will rain slow, heavy drops.

grandchildren, ingenuity, coincidence

Posted by PicasaGrandchildren, Jacob and Jet, on a recent visit. Not so long ago you had to keep them entertained. Now they entertain us.

The Italian delicatessen called Arte Bianca at the bottom of Mount Sion, has had tables outside for coffee and snacks for some time. it is a corner shop.  On one side, the platform, following the slope of the ground,  used to make sitting a little uncomfortable. Now the owner has built up the platform so that it is on a level, but doing so has necessitated a step, with the result that chairs at a table at the top level are a few inches higher above the ground than those at the lower level. The beautiful bit of ingenuity that earns general applause is to place higher chairs, like bar stools, at the lower level, bringing sitters up the same height as people sitting on on the upper level.

A few weeks ago, knowing her liking for his work, I gave Amanda, who works sometimes at Hall's bookshop a novel by Georges Simenon, which I had just read. In exchange she handed me a book called Il avait plu tout le dimanche "It had Rained the Whole of Sunday". She had just got hold of it, and did not, I think,  know its contents. It consists of a series of short chapters describing  the character and life of a young man from Alsace who comes to live in Paris which he loves more than annywhere else on earth, and the day-to day occurrences of his life as a post office clerk. It is by a historian called Philippe Delerm, and written with a particular French charm and humour, the charm that produced Monsieur Hulot, one might say. A few chapters on, and I have the explanation for the title. The central character likes reading Simenon's Maigret novels. But his preference is for the opening plaragraphs rather than the development of  the stories. The novels appeal because they invariably begin with a description of melancholy townscapes and sentences like "Il avait plu tout le dimanche". So it's back to Simenon.

Friday, June 04, 2010

hydranger, chance, rainbow

 Posted by PicasaOthers, notably I think Lucy Kempton, have taken a similar photograph to this,but I cannot refrain from closing in on the cluster of small buds at the heart of the inflorescence. When the plant arrived in the garden, the flowers were a dazzling white. In the last few days they have developed the pinkness
hinted at in the buds.

The little paths between the back gates of houses fronting on to parallel road are know in in these parts as  twittens. Ours between the back gates of houses in Mount Sion and Berkeley Road, is largely unmade, or if made once, is disintegrating. The result is a chance garden of wild plants and garden escapes growing  in the angle where the wall of a house meets the path. On my way to the dustbin, a few steps only, I count sow thistle, herb Robert, sedge grass, a poppy, alkenet, valerian. There was once, but is no longer, an elder among the wheelie bins.

It is daft to water in the middle of the day, when the suns absorbs the moisture from the surface of the soil,  but the new seedlings and the beans, squash and courgettes, just planted out, need a good soaking. And the only time I have for this pleasing but time consuming exercise is this morning. As I stand with the hose I count slowly to 30 to in front of each row of plants to ensure that it receives its due. And to further entertain myself flash the stream of spray towards  the sun to catch a rainbow.